HOWARD COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – Nearly 3,000 people attended the funeral for fallen Howard County Deputy Carl Koontz in Kokomo Tuesday afternoon. Hundreds more lined the streets as Koontz’ flag-drapped casket was escorted 17 miles from Northwestern High School to his final resting place at Albright Cemetery.
Koontz was shot and killed while serving a warrant in Russiaville on March 20.
Indiana State Police say 2,000 law enforcement personnel and 800 civilians came out to say their final goodbye at the funeral.
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“The police need support. People need to show that they support the police,” IU Kokomo Police Department Chief Jerry Williams said.
Sgt Jordan Buckley, who was with Deputy Koontz the night of the fatal shooting, lead the procession alongside other members of the Howard County Sheriff’s Department.
“I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been in it (the police department) for 33 years,” Williams added.EMOTIONAL MOMENTS HIGHLIGHT FUNERAL
A roller coaster of emotions filled Northwestern High School and thousands of people attended Deputy Carl Koontz funeral.
It was their chance to learn more about father and husband and his life behind the badge.
“Although I am proud to be here, I wish this horrible tragedy had never happened,” said Corporal Justin Markley. “But today it’s not about a horrible tragedy; rather, it’s about a hero.”
The hero he spoke of was Deputy Koontz, the same man who served a warrant well after his shift on March 20. Deputy Koontz was shot while standing at the front door of the home in Russiaville. He later died from his injuries.
Corporal Markley told a candid story of the final moments he shared with Deputy Koontz.
“I had the honor of being by his side while at the hospital in Kokomo. He never stopped fighting,” said Corporal Markley. “When most of us thought that he was done fighting, Carl proved his dedication one more time as he squeezed my hand. He opened up his eyes as Kassie walked in. He leaned in and he looked at her. As his mom walked in, he leaned over and he looked at her. I believe this was Carl’s way of saying it’s going to be OK.”
“Among all the emotions, one word stands out, the word proud,” said Deputy Jake Gibson, one of Koontz’s close friends. “I’m proud of wearing of wearing this badge alongside Carl for the last few years, I’m proud to honor Carl the way he’d want to be honored.”
Governor Mike Pence talked about Koontz sacrifice at the funeral.
“Teddy Roosevelt said, ‘The darker night, the bolder the lion.’ And (Koontz) went in in the dark of night and his courage saved lives of his fellow officers and this community,” said Gov. Pence.
Before their kind words, before an endless stream of law enforcement filed in to pay their respects, there was a private moment that spoke volumes. Koontz’s wife Kassandra stood alone, wiping tears from her eyes as she looked at her husband’s casket and then his mural in disbelief that he’s gone.
She then mustered up the courage to give her husband’s eulogy to the crowd, and she ended it with a request for the people in the crowd, a message to deliver to their son Noah.
It was fitting that the funeral took place in Northwestern High School, the same place where Koontz worked as a liaison officer.
“Carl went above and beyond the call of duty to minister those kids, to help those kids, encourage them to support them,” said Pastor Steve Cole of Faith Church of Christ and also the leader of the funeral.
Although Koontz was only a deputy and had only been with the department for about three years, he already had high aspirations for his future. His ultimate goal was to serve and protect the community where he grew up, only in one of the highest positions possible.
“Carl made no bones about it, he intended to be the sheriff one day and those closest to him knew that he was serious,” said Sheriff Steven Rogers. “I speak for all of us when I tell you he earned our respect for who he was and how he did his job.”
Deputy Koontz was on the force for just 2.5 years.
“Most of the people do not know him, but they know of the sacrifice that he made was important,” said Sgt Tony Slocum of the Indiana State Police. “And when we lose a hero or a protector the community, I think it makes all of us feel a little more vulnerable, and when we come together in numbers it gives us strength to go on.”CROWDS LINE PROCESSION ROUTE
People from across the state lined the streets with US flags and blue ribbons.
Gary Bragg brought a hammer and scrap wood. He used to nail down a sign he made honoring Koontz.
“These guys give so much, every single day. Their every day routine, that I just felt it was necessary,” Bragg said. “If we could just do a small token of something like this to show them that we have their back. We aren’t against them, we’re for them.”